On Sun, 6 Feb 2005 11:06:55 +0800, Sheng Jiong <sheng.jiong(a)gmail.com> wrote:
Mandrin? This should be something which is
documentable. Are there
schools being set up to teach written vernaculars as opposed to standard
No, but I know plenty of HKers can write in Cantonese (with Hanzi)
without having been taught.
But tell us how much difference are there between "Cantonese
characters" and proper Chinese characters? Aren't you still using
Chinese characters, with the addition of a few distinctive Cantonese
characters? And Hong Kong is not the only place that speaks Cantonese,
please do remember. Majority of the Cantonese speakers live in
Guangdong, and extremely few, if any, of these people can comprehend
or write. Since Wikipedia is set up based on languages rather than
countries, it is questionable if a Cantonese Wikipedia should be set
up if only a minority of the speakers can understand a non-standard
writing system created by a few people. Same objection goes for
Min-nan Wikipedia, which can only be understood by a handful
Taiwanese, while most Taiwanese and all native speakers of the dialect
in Fujian will not have a clue of what is going on.
So what? Does that mean that those speakers who DO have an idea what
is going on, shouldn't be allowed to have a Wikipedia?
I recently read a testimonial from somebody, and let me tell you it
really surprised me, who said they don't really know Peh-oe-ji but
they picked it up fast enough sounding out pages on the Minnan
Wikipedia and now read that Wikipedia regularly (although they don't
write in it).
Why would the people in Guangdong have no idea what is going on?
Most of the characters used are already known by everybody, it is just
that their position and use is different - grammar between Chineses is
very different, as is vocabulary (Mandarin, for example, is often
disyllabic where southern sinitic varieties are monosyllabic, this is
due largely to the greater loss of tones Mandarin had under Manchurian
and Mongolian influence, than the southern varieties which mostly
still have 6 or 7 or sometimes even 15 tones). For example in
Shanghai, you say "侬叫啥名字？" where in Beijing you say "您叫什么名字？" where
those two phrases, only 3 out of all the characters are the same, and
there are some very important differences: Mandarin and Baihuawen use
"shenme", a two syllable, two character word, where Shanghai uses
"saa", a one-syllable word.
In more complex discourse, many other differences become readily
apparent. I don't want to detail all of them here, but I will give a
(from zoenghee syangkho deeu, 上海乡下头）
mevong kajyi ngu jyeeu teuq ngugeuq bangyeeu nieung veuqwe tugeuq,
tseo tu khaveuq coeku seegeuq nieung daka daq chyaqdaqco toe syangkho
qyi beuq syang.
Now, every "○" is a word that doesn't have a cognate in Mandarin. Even
if you filled those in (mostly grammatical markers), it still wouldn't
be proper Baihua.
Also, you say "proper Chinese characters". This suggests to me you
have some sort of contempt for fangyan in general.
are there novels, dictionaries etc. being published in
numbers, is there a movement.
How large is large? Does net forums count? Especially when wikipedia
started as a Internet project? Many HKers in HK net forums/boards/bbs
write in Cantonese.
Again, only HKers can understand your "written Cantonese"! Have you
forgotten your neighbours in Guangdong??
degree of linguistic separationism in progress. However, a stronger
case could be made for a desire to incorporate vernacular idioms into
standard mandrin, or as an important cultural dialect within the whole,
as there are many culturally significant dialects in English which,
The differences aren't as minimal as the differences among dialects in
English. And while incorporating slang words, etc. from different
"dialects" into Mandarin is possible, that doesn't stop Cantonese/Yue
from being something completely different from Mandarin.
There is a big difference I agree. But "completely different from
Mandarin"? I doubt if the grammar is different?
As I demonstrated above, the grammar is very different. Are you sure
you speak Shanghai speech variety?
Instead of arguing with each other about what
"we" would like, it seems
better to spend time finding out what the readers want, and then finding
a means to provide that.
Well, a wikipedia is a new enough concept to the potential users that I
doubt they would be unhappy to learn that there's a Cantonese/Yue
wikipedia, in addition to the "traditional" Mandarin vernacular one.
And I doubt how many people can really understand your Cantonese
Wikipedia? There are 77 million Cantonese living in Guangdong, and how
many of them can really understand "Cantonese characters"? If the
majority of the potential readers of your Wikipedia cannot understand
you, what position are you in to propose for a Wikipedia written in
their native languages?
Again you bash this proposal with no considerance for fact. Nobody
here is proposing to write this Wikipedia in an alien writing system.
You are taking remarks out of context. What Alex meant is that
Cantonese is often written in a Hong Kong context and people are able
to read it without any special training (ie, the characters they learn
at school for baihua is enough), by extension the same should apply to
is based in Guangzhou.
I've been to Guangzhou many, many times. There are tons of
local TV and radio programs in Cantonese/Yue, in addition to the Hong
Kong programs they watch/listen to. Every time I was in a taxi, if the
driver is from the local region, his radio is always tuned to a radio
station that speaks Cantonese/Yue.
So? We are discussing if we should have a Wikipedia "written* in
Cantonese or any other dialects (which all do not even have a
standardised writting system, which means that not all native speakers
can understand the written encyclopedia should we have one), not
discussing about whether we should have a spoken encyclopedia in these
dialects. I totally agree that dialects are living spoken languages in
China, but it is absurdly ridiculous to attempt to write in them, as
there is *no* **standardised** writing system for them!!
Where do you get the idea there is no standardised writing system?
People write in these languages all the time, millions every day.
Yes, there is no official standardised writing system, but there are
literary standards that have been set (especially for Cantonese) and
what is most important is that PEOPLE CAN READ WHAT EACH OTHER WROTE.
is, all Chinese dialects other than Mandarin remain a
and extremely few books/articles/etc. are published in dialects.
...citation? How do you know? From what studies are you pulling this
information from? You can't just say it and assume it to be true.
From my common sense and my frequent visits to bookshops and libraries
all around the world! I have never, in my entire life, seen a single
book that is written *completely* in any dialects in China, apart from
Mandarin. And as I have said before, apart from some tabloids in Hong
Kong, no Chinese newspapers in the world would write in dialects too!
Apparently you haven't been very far around the world. There are many
books (off the top of my head, "Diarie of a Yuppie" comes to mind),
tabloids, and magazines written in colloquial Cantonese. There are a
few books in Wu, too.
I mean, many
printed ads in Hong Kong that are written in Cantonese/Yue,
using puns and so on. Many slogans of those products are written in
Cantonese/Yue. The most recent example I can think of, in fact, is a
government ad (from the Equal Opportunity Committee) trying to
I'm not sure about that honestly. But are the books completely written
in Cantonese? Or just some puns? And slogons are quite, quite
different from encyclopedias, where millions of words have to been
Yes, entire books. Imagine that.
What makes you think an encyclopedia can't be written in Sinitic
vernaculars? Do you doubt their viability for use as written languages
in a modern context? Do you think, that it's not possible to write
doctoral dissertation in Cantonese or Wu?
Did you know how many times this same things has been said to minority
languages such as Hawaiian, Maori, Basque, Catalan, and do you know
what? Every time, they have proved opponents as "wrong". You can find
now text on computer science in Catalan (even a Wikipedia in Catalan),
a Wikipedia in Maori, one in Basque, and the beginnings of one in
Hawaiian, as well as many other texts in modern topics in these
If these people want so much to write an encyclopedia in their
language, and you are SO SURE they will fail, why can not let them
try, and if you are so smart your point will be proved and it will be
failure and these projects will be shut down? Or are you afraid to be
fact we do not even know what writing system we should
there be a Chinese dialect Wikipedia.
Well, I would suggest Hanzi script first and consider whether we should
do the romanization later on, though I think romanization would be too
confusing to really be useful.
That is not the point! It is not important what *you* think. It is
important whether our readers can understand? Some HKers may, but how
about people in Guangdong? If you are writing an encyclopedia for them
and they have not even seen such characters, what is the point.
Reminder you one more time: There is no standardised writing system
for Cantonese/Wu/etc. dialects.
Wah lau!!! So pushy what! Always yelling one, a bit the loud lah.
Now anyways back to what we talk about. The majority will be able to
read Cantonese in Hanzi. It is not difficult, if you already have some
basic characters knowledges, or especially if you can read Baihua,
even just a little
well-publicized Chinese-government study,
for example, claims that only half of the Chinese population are capable
of speaking Mandarin ("neng2 shuo1 Pu3tong1hua4";
). This is likely
to be shocking only to those who never venture outside of the circles of
urban, well-educated elite (of whom the Chinese Wikipedia can count many
You are confusing Mandarin with Chinese in its written form. Yes, only
50% can speak Mandarin, but over 80% are literate and they can read
Chinese characters (although not in Mandarin). Chinese dialects have
more or less the same grammar (probably due to the interaction among
the people over thousands of years), therefore not being able to
"speak" Mandarin does not mean they cannot "read". The fact is, zh:
a *Chinese Wikipedia*, not just a *Mandarin Wikipedia*.
This is a common myth circulated between monolinguals speakers of
Mandarin. Grammr is not the same, it is very different between them.
If you know Shanghai speech as you said, why do'nt you try to read out
the text with Mandarin character but Shanghai reading, and see if it
sound right? It sound unnatural, forced, and sometimes impossible to
If it is such a "Chinese Wikipedia", how will you feel if I post a new
article in the Cantonese or the Wu? It will be either deleted, or the
text will be "corrected" to Mandarin.